Episode 5: Getting to Grandma’s House

Every business owners takes risks, but they should take extra measures to avoid landmines and casinos.

Episode 5: Getting to Grandma’s House

Taking risks in business is unavoidable. However, you want to stay away from risky behavior as much as possible. David talks about avoiding snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, self-inflicted wounds, and driving without your headlights on during today’s episode. What does all this mean? Tune in for more details.

Stay tuned for an episode about the hiring process and the best practices that no one has told you.

Show Notes

Coming soon!

Show Transcript





Alright. Hi everybody, and welcome to a new episode of The Buck Stops Here business podcast. I’m your host, David Maples, and without further ado, I’m going to talk about our new episode, which I call, “Getting to Grandma’s House, finding a path through the woods while avoiding landmines and casinos.” So, today, what we’re going to hop into is kind of three main, as I call them, they’re kind of categories of pain.



They’re things that affect your company, and they’re things that are completely avoidable. And so, with each segment today, we’re going to try to offer you some takeaways that you can do and just spend five minutes on and improve your business in massive ways in a pretty short period of time. So, kind of our three action categories we going to talk about today are how to avoid snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, how to avoid self inflicted wounds. So, as a lot of you guys out there would probably say, how to avoid shooting yourself in the foot. And how to make sure that you’re not driving without your headlights on or playing in a casino. This is business. There are risks.



There are things you can measure and do. And so we’ve talked about some of these things in previous episodes, but basically, you are probably engaging in risky behavior right now. And as you, as all humans do, we tend to complain about it later. And as The Buck Stops Here Business Podcast, you do understand that you are responsible for the things you do in your particular organization and or business. So, what we’re trying to do is make sure that those things happen in a way that don’t cause major issues for you, and that you can mitigate those risks.



That’s one of the other things you always want to look at in any business venture is how do you avoid or minimize those risks, so to speak? So, hopping into it. So the first section here we’re talking about is how do you avoid snatching defeat from the jaws of victory? And you may be wondering what that means. That really fundamentally comes down to, you have everything set up, you’ve done everything properly, and then you fumble the ball at the 1 yard line.



That’s kind of football language there. It’s like you literally have everything going on. And those of you out in the audience watching it, everybody else who sees what you’re doing, look at you and kind of cringes because they know this was totally avoidable. Like, how did you drop them all at the 1 yard line? You just could have fallen and you would have gone over the goal line, but you didn’t.



So, there are several different avenues on there we can talk about. Now, to kind of line this up, not with a sports metaphor. What does that mean? So you have done this stuff in your business repeatedly, and a lot of times it happens in hiring, recruiting, decision making process, or in sales. So, one of the things right now I’m going to talk about is just a very basic thing. So in sales, there is different parts of the sales process.



One of the most obvious ones is when you don’t shut up when you’re making a sale or whatever. You talk yourself out of a sale. We’ve all been guilty of that. I’ve done that more times than I could probably count. It’s that when somebody wants to make a purchase or engage with your company, help facilitate and implement that transaction at that point in time. Don’t keep talking. Just shut up and make the sale.



And so this is more fundamental than that. It’s not as simple as like somebody’s looking at their watch and they’re like, “Hey, man, do you want to take my money or not?” These are simple things you can do in your business process to fix that. So, number one, you can make sure that there’s an easy way to facilitate getting the contract signed or taking their money. Do not delay the process there.



You know, they’ve agreed to do business with you for whatever reason. Just. All right, cool. We’re on implementation. It’s, how do we get this contract signed?



How do we do this right now? And that means putting processes or procedures in place to facilitate that and make that easier for them. Okay? It could be as simple as giving them multiple ways to pay. If you take checks, maybe you should look at taking credit cards and maybe you should look at doing the other things.



If you work with a contract, which you should, you should always work with a contract. And that goes into our third section later, driving without your headlights on. If you’re working without a contract, you’re driving without headlights on. You’re playing a casino. You’re asking a bird at some point in time. Not because you don’t trust people to act in a forthright and upright manner, but some people don’t.



Some percentage of your audience won’t do that at any point in time, or your clientele. But literally just make it an easy way to do it. Give them multiple ways to pay, take their money, make it seamless for them. Really think a lot about your experience of working with a customer. Right? Because if you don’t, if you don’t think about that experience, and you don’t think about how that process works, it kind of sours the entire process. Remember, it never gets better than the honeymoon.



When you have a new client or whatever it is, every piece of that is being judged. You don’t think about it. They may not be consciously thinking about it. But later they may say, you know, they made it really hard for me to check out. They made it really hard for me to get the contract. Or, your salespeople right now could be doing something as simple as, “Oh, well, let me get you over to billing, and they’ll take your credit card right away.” You have to be very careful with that, because in sales, you are their person.



You are the person who has facilitated. And all of a sudden, once you hand it off to the other person, no matter how well you do it, no matter how well you execute that, there is some voice in the back of their head that’s probably saying, “Well, they just wanted my money and now they don’t care. They’ve pawned me off to somebody else.” Remember, you are their person. That’s kind of the way it works.



So, other examples of this in a business, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. When you get a phone call in to your business, make sure someone is answering the phone. If you have a voice system, press one for sales, press two for whatever, make sure that those phone calls can be answered in a very timely fashion. You can actually do more damage to your brand and business by mishandling just that initial encounter.



Because as you set this up, if they have to wait five minutes to talk to people, they might think, “Wow, gosh, they’re super busy. I’m so glad they’re going to answer my phone.” Or, they might think, “Man, these guys are really terrible at what they do. If they’re so bad at just answering the phones, how bad will they be at everything else?”



Again, this may not be conscious, but what you have to worry about is those subconscious things that happen. So, make sure that you have a human being or someone else to do it. Whether they’re texting you, make sure you can have interactions, and you can replace certain things with automation and AI. That’s a whole other episode we’re going to talk about. It’s involving artificial intelligence in your business processes.



There are times that that works, and there are times that they completely mishandle it. You need to make sure that you are doing those things as quickly as possible. When you get a phone call lead or an Internet lead from your website, if you call them back or you respond to them. And if you listen to our sales episode, we talk about this a little bit. You are 60 times more likely to close the deal if you respond to them in five minutes than if you respond to them a day later.



Just to give you an idea, at an hour that drops to seven times more likely than a day later. But here’s the thing, responding within five minutes is ten times more powerful than responding just an hour later. And it’s 60 times more powerful than responding a day later. Those things are things that can literally increase your revenue and your bottom line by 20% to 30% this year if you’re not doing them right now.



And more than half of small and medium-sized businesses, if you’re underneath $50 million here in revenue, which a lot of you are listening to the podcast, you’re not doing it. More than half of you are not taking these actions right now. You have to ask yourself why. It’s a very simple thing. You could put new processes in place today.



Look, I just made you several thousand dollars. By the way, if you want to call me later, I’d be glad to do business with you. That being said, back to this. And hiring is another one that’s really important. Jeff Bezos, who runs a little company you may have heard of called Amazon. Actually, I think he’s chairman of the board now.



I think he stepped down from officially running day-to-day operations. But that being said, he says one of the biggest problems in business owners is we try to work on perfect information. He’s like, you have to get comfortable with uncertainty. You have to get comfortable with imperfections in your business. You’re never going to have 100% of the data you need or 100% of the knowledge you need to make a decision.



You have to get kind of comfortable in that kind of squishy 70% range. Right? So perfect case in point is hiring and recruiting. One of the most expensive and yet most important business operations.



Please stay tuned in a couple of weeks, we’re going to be doing an episode on hiring and best practices, and things you can do that you’re not doing right now that no one’s told you. But that being said, the hiring thing you really want to talk about is, how many candidates do you really need to look at? 20, 30, 100, 1000? Three? Here’s the problem. Fortune favors those who act.



In the military, they say they have a bias towards action. Ultimately, that’s one of the things you can control. You gotta realize a lot of things are outside your control. If you have three great candidates and resumes keep coming in, you might tell yourself, “Well, you know, I might find that special once in a million candidate, if I keep waiting. If I keep waiting just a few more minutes.”



And the reality of it is that you don’t necessarily need to wait that long. If you have three good candidates, it’s probably time for you to pull the trigger and act. You’re at your 70% of knowledge information here. Go ahead and take those actions. Because, otherwise, you’re going to miss out on that one. You might wait for the perfect candidate to come in, but you’re going to completely miss it if you keep waiting. So, kind of, this brings us to the end of this first little piece of this is snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.



What I’d like you to do right now is take probably five minutes, you can pause the podcast, and just take five minutes and write down the things you’re not doing right now of the things I just said. Do you have a good sales process to really streamline that, to really make that part of that great experience for the client? There’s very simple things you can do. Make sure that your phone number is being answered by humans. Make sure you’re auditing those phone calls.



Make sure you’re listening to that. What are people actually doing? Do they sound enthusiastic and excited when they answer the phone? Little details make a big difference. Someone smiling when they answer the phone will double the number of sales you close.



And if you’re not auditing your stuff, you’re not doing that. Okay? These are little actionable pieces that you can do. Have a sales process for like, okay, what is our criteria for excellence on a hire? How many of these resumes are we going to wait for them to come in?



And you need to sit down with your management or your advisory board and say, what does that look like for us? And just realize that you’re never going to have perfect information. And these little details can make a big difference in your bottom line. The next section I want to talk about is what I consider self-inflicted wounds. These are literally things that should never, ever, ever happen in your business. Okay?



And I know there are those of you out there and listen to this and say, oh, well, you know, it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. That’s really sweet. And it’s dead wrong when it comes to certain things. As I like to say, death and taxes are the two things that wait- that you can never avoid in life. Right?



And you can’t really fix those things. If you’re dealing with a tax filing or tax deadline, there is no grace period. I feel like that’s one of the biggest things we do to our kids these days. In some respects, it’s kind of like, we let them know there’s always a second chance. There’s not when it comes to hard deadlines. Just because you turned a paper late into college or something like that. In the business world, if that proposal has to be in today by 05:00 p.m., you’re on the mercy of those other people if you miss that deadline.



Sometimes it works out, but more than likely, you can just kiss that deal goodbye. And that means you don’t just have to be on time. You have to try to not be late. You know, it’s not a video game.



You don’t get to hit reset on it. You’re on the mercy of the courts and the judges. And so when I talk about deadlines, these are a lot of different things. If you’re in a professional industry and I am an attorney, barred in Louisiana, but that doesn’t really matter. I’m not giving legal advice here. But, there are certain things like malpractice, that trigger your legal malpractice. You know, filing deadlines.



There’s malpractice in a lot of industries. But here’s the thing. There is business malpractice as well. There are things that you’re not doing correctly in your business right now, and it is inexcusable. And it’s got to stop today, not tomorrow.



Today. All right? Sales tax filing deadlines. If you collect sales tax on things. You need to make sure you don’t miss those deadlines.



You need to live and die by the calendar. You need to make sure there’s a process in there to handle that. Right? Income tax deadlines. And if you get a penalty, if you get a penalty on your taxes, that is not deductible on your income taxes or anything else later. You don’t get to go back later. That comes right out of your profit lines.



Okay? That is not an expense. It is a finer penalty. And you need to make sure that you’re doing that right. And don’t think you’re going to get the good graces of Uncle Sam or any government. And by the way, I don’t care if this is state government, federal government, if you’re in the US, if you’re in Mexico, Canada or in Europe, there are things you have to comply with.



And if there are hard deadlines, you need to make sure you meet those deadlines. If you don’t, you’re playing with fire. And I consider these to be self-inflicted wounds, and they’re non-forgivable. In every industry or business, there are things that are non-forgivable.



In the legal profession, if we miss a filing deadline, we lose a case. And the medical professionals are things you never get to do. The reason Medicaid and Medicare won’t pay for certain injuries in the hospital is going to say these events should never happen. These events only happened because you guys were not doing your jobs correctly. And that’s the critical part there.



Unless you have a ton of lobbying money, which most small and medium businesses do, even large enterprises don’t want to spend, you know, millions of dollars on self-inflicted wounds. Make sure they do that. So kind of, these are what I call these are basically filing dates, legal dates. If you have a client who hadn’t paid you in a while, you might want to talk to your attorneys about it, because every state has a limited amount of time that you can pursue those claims for. And remember, your non-paying clients also are aware of that. And they’re watching those timelines. Man, if they wait three years on this, I don’t have to, because in certain jurisdictions, that may be what the timeline is.



If I wait three more, if I wait at the clock on this, they can’t do this, right? But here’s the thing, to go back to my football analogy, if you mismanage the clock, you lose the game. If you run out of time, you do not get to make that last pass. And realize just like there, there are things you need to realize, and it is your own fault.



And at The Buck Stops Here, we say that it is your fault if you miss these things. So kind of your takeaways on this section are pretty straightforward. You need to live and die by your calendar. I’d like you right now to stop this. Spend five minutes and write down three or four things, you know that are coming up.



And by the way, a good test on this. A good way you know what those things are. Right now, think about the things you’ve thought about at night. Anything you’ve ever woken up at three the morning for.



And as a business owner, I know you’ve had this happen. You’re like, oh my gosh, did I file this? Did I do this? Any of those things need to be on a calendar.



They need to be on multiple calendars. You need to be double checking on those and making sure those things happen. Because there’s no excuse for this. And there’s also no guarantee, let’s say you miss one. That’s a whole other action and a whole other episode of a podcast to see how to mitigate that.



But when you can look at these things and figure out if there’s an issue or something’s happened, you can figure that out on your process. Okay? The same part of that, just to let you know, like I said, if there’s a real debt, you have to collect it. You got to try doing these things. You got to make sure they happen.



You can’t miss your time on this stuff. Okay? So, spend your few minutes here. Write down those things that come to top of mind that you know you need to be doing in your business right now. And you need to check up on this.



If you pass these off to somebody else, remember, you’re a captain of your own ship. It is in part, is it important that you make sure the other people in your company know how to follow up and handle these things. Critically important. And the last section I kind of want to talk about today, it’s about driving without your headlights on. Okay? You are engaging in risky behavior right now and you kind of know it, but a lot of you guys will complain about it later.



With all of these sections on this, if you tell another business owner about the stuff you’re doing, they kind of- this is why those peer advisory groups, there are several different organizations that do that, where you have other business owners who sit around a table, and you kind of talk about what’s going on. And they kind of talk about how they experience a certain situation. I think those CEO kind of roundtables can be very useful. But basically, this entire episode of this podcast is stuff that they’re basically pointing out. You know, that you’re doing these things wrong. You know that you’re a people pleaser and you say yes, too much, or, you know, you take on too much to yourself. These are pretty obvious to everybody else in your organization.



But when you’re driving about your headlights on down a long, windy road at night, you’re playing with fire. You’re going to go off a cliff and it’s no one else’s fault but yours. And you’re not going to get a lot of sympathy from other people. So, one of these things I want to talk about real quick is your relationships. You know, if your relationships are having issues. Your relationship to clients, your relationship to your employees, your relationship, these things.



And there’s a lot of red flags. And that’s one of the things you’re looking for as you’re driving down this road at night; you’re looking for warning signs. There’s almost always rocks falling sharp turn ahead. There’s something you see ahead of time.



We have a whole ‘nother episode on watching the road ahead. You need to be predicting your future. And this is not just about predicting what could happen. This is what you know will happen at some point in time. So, if you’re in a relationship with a vendor. For example, a client texts you back and forth, you sold them on a deal, and you’re doing this thing.



And they’ve been contacting your people all the time. And then all of a sudden they stop contacting with you, right? They stop being responsive, and they start sending these really long, winding emails that have a lot of legalese in there. And it just seems a little weird. Real, you know, stilted language. They’re cheating on you.



There’s something wrong with that relationship right now. There’s something that’s going on that is incorrect in that relationship. They’re either looking to sue you. They’re looking to hide on it. There’s a third party involved somewhere. You don’t need to spend a ton of time on that.



But you need to not be silly about it, right? If somebody starts sending you very long, legally sounding emails and you’re finishing up a contract and they’re getting a little wonky with stuff and they seemed okay before, something else is going on in the relationship. And you need to be aware of that. If employees are all of a sudden taking off a whole bunch of-. Now, look, you can have-. You need to monitor these things. And it’s not that you don’t trust your employees, but at the same time, if they’re taking a ton of time off for a lot of real sketchy or questionable things and there’s always excuses for stuff, something else is going on. They could be interviewing somewhere else, which may mean you need to look at your organization to find out if this is the kind of person you want to keep here, or what are you doing?



But you almost always, never-. When these things always happen later, you’re like, “Man, I knew it. I knew that something was wrong here.” Okay? You need to be aware of that. And you need to start taking actions.



You need to start mitigating your risks. If you’re driving down that long, windy road at night, you need to drop your speed in half. You need to turn on your thing, and you need to look at those warning signs. All right? And this is very easy.



We’re all playing in a casino in some way. For example, if you’re- it’s about doing your due diligence with a vendor or with a client. If you’re financing out a client’s option and you’re not calling their business references or you’re not pulling their Dun and Bradstreet numbers or the reports, or you’re not pulling their personal credit, or if your contracts don’t have a personal guarantee in them, that means you can go after somebody else if they don’t pay their business bills, you are totally gambling in a casino, and you should know better. You should know better! Because you’re going to end up losing your butt on some very risky propositions. You should totally know that. Right?



Same thing with vetting vendors, vetting your lawyers or anyone else. That’s the same kind of thing. And there’s a lot of activities to do this. Just like they’re vetting you online to figure out if they want to do business with you, and we have an episode on this about star power and reviews, previous episode, you can vet them.



True story. The other day we had a vendor who came in and a very big vendor has place in multiple states and was calling about a certain kind of digital marketing advertising that they wanted to get my other company, Catapult, to work for. By the way, this episode is brought to you by Catapult Creative Media. It’s let’s launch this dot com.



Catapult Creative Media is a full service digital marketing agency that provides unmatched value for advertising and marketing resources for clients all over the United States. So, if you’d like to look them up, I highly recommend them. A, because I also founded it, but B, because they do great work. But in that particular client, what we’re talking about now, we started researching them and we found out, man, this client, totally bad reviews all over the Internet. Employees, everything else they’ve done.



Why is this important? That doesn’t sound like a client you want to engage with. And look, I understand you might want to just take their money, et cetera, but you don’t want a bad problem client. And I’ll tell you, if they treat their employees badly and they treat their clients badly, they’re going to be a bad client for you. Just remember that, and you know these things, and you can go look those things up just like they look you up online.



But make sure, just the last thing I’m going to say on this, make sure you’re checking your fundamentals. Make sure you’re looking at your profit and loss, your balance sheet statements. Make sure you’re looking at your cash flows. Make sure you’ve got someone putting an eyeball on those things.



And watch the watchers. If you’ve got someone doing your tax returns for you or doing your bookkeeping, have someone else audit their work. Same thing with your employees. It’s not record management, but employees deal well with constructive feedback. They also like to know that they’re growing.



If you’re not watching what they’re doing and you don’t really know what your employees are doing, I guarantee you they’re not doing what you want them to do. So that’s one of those things. So the takeaways from the third one are about really making sure that you’re not driving with your headlights on. I’d like you to take five minutes right now, pause the podcast and write down, and this is not a ten minute, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, five things that you’re kind of concerned about.



Something that if you had to tell another business manager at your company or another business owner you respect that you were engaging in right now, they might look at you kind of askew and say, “Are you sure you want to be doing that?” That’s what you want to know. You want to get that feedback from them so you can make sure you’re not doing those things. And as we always say, this is kind of our no BS segment part of the podcast. Here’s the thing.



It is your fault when something goes wrong. If you have not looked and mitigated your risks, it is all your fault. Okay? It is your fault when a relationship goes bad with the client. You need to look at those things and say, what could we have done differently?



What could we have done better in this particular situation? And it is your responsibility to audit your employees and your vendors at all times and make sure that they are the kind of right vendors for you. Make sure your vendors, this is the no BS segment, make sure they line up with some of your company values. Because if they line up with your company values, when you have a strained relationship, which will happen at some point in your relationship, a good company value and an alignment of purpose between you and your vendors and between you and your clients can help you overcome some of those negative-.



When you do have a problem, that’s how you help overcome it. When you have a transactional relationship or transactional nature of the relationship, you cannot survive those kind of turbulent waters that you eventually find yourself going through. So, back to the podcast. As we always like to say at The Buck Stops Here, we’d like to give you some real takeaways. Okay, so the first section snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.



Make sure you take a hard look at what you’re doing in your organization and say, what could we do better to streamline these processes? What is our criteria for success in hiring? How do we smooth out our sales process? As simple as making sure that our salespeople follow up in five minutes, making sure there’s an easy way to take payments from them, multiple ways for clients to pay you and make sure you get that money. The second one is about those self-inflicted wounds.



Get your calendar out today and write down the five things you cannot miss in the next month. For example, it could be as simple as making sure that you are not short on the deadlines for when you have to announce a 401K or a new hire or review. All of these things are important for your employees, okay? Or, important for your company. Make sure you don’t miss those tax filing deadlines. Put them on the calendar right now.



It’ll take you five minutes and it will let you sleep better and easier at night. And the last one is your risky behavior. Those risk taking things that you’re doing right now, you shouldn’t be doing and you know it. So, write down the five or ten things you haven’t really thought about. Remember, hope is not a plan.



A plan of action is about you coming together and looking at what things face you and figuring out how to achieve those things properly. Again, I’m David Maples, host of The Buck Stops Here Podcast. I appreciate your time today. If you like what we did today, please subscribe to the podcast and if you would like to find out about future episodes, please put your email in below and we’d love to see you on a future episode. We love your criticism and or feedback.



With that, thank you for your time. Go out there, be awesome, and make it a great week.


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